Canada is on track to set a new annual record for the number of new permanent residents immigrating here under spousal sponsorships.
The latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reveals 51,810 new permanent residents immigrated to Canada under spousal sponsorships in the first nine months of this year.
Based on that trend, Canada is poised to have welcomed 69,080 new permanent residents under this spousal sponsorship program by the end of this year.
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That’s 4,645 new permanent residents, or 7.2 per cent, more than came under spousal sponsorships last year.
It’s also 4,305 new permanent residents, or 6.6 per cent, more than immigrated to Canada through spousal sponsorships in 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, when the country set a record of 64,435 new permanent residents under this program.
With Canada opening its arms to ever-increasing numbers of immigrants, a growing number of them have been availing themselves of the spousal sponsorship program to re-unite with their loved ones.
Spousal sponsorships were growing steadily in popularity in the years before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2015, Canada welcomed 46,350 new permanent residents through spousal sponsorships. The following year, that number swelled by 22.7 per cent to hit 56,855.
Spousal sponsorship numbers grew by a more modest 2.3 per cent in 2017 but then spiked 8.2 per cent the following year to see 62,885 new permanent residents come to Canada in 2018.
In 2019, Canada welcomed 64,775 new permanent residents through spousal sponsorships, an increase of three per cent or 1,890 new permanent residents over the previous year.
Then, COVID-19 hit.
COVID-19 Pandemic Pushed Down Spousal Sponsorships For A Year
Ottawa temporarily closed the borders to all but essential travel and governments across the country put in place stringent public health measures, all of which severely curtailed immigration to Canada.
Immigration to Canada fell by 45.9 per cent in the first year of the pandemic
In 2019, the country had welcomed 341,175 new permanent residents to the country but the following year that dropped off dramatically and by the end of 2020 Canada had seen only 184,590 new permanent residents settle in the country.
Spousal sponsorships fell in step with the overall immigration trend.
In 2020, the number of new permanent residents coming to Canada through this program was down by 44.2 per cent, or 28,655 spouses, as the country only welcomed 36,120.
Last year, though, immigration to Canada roared back to life, soaring almost 120 per cent to reach a record-breaking 406,040 new permanent residents by the end of the year.
And spousal sponsorships also spiked.
In that one year alone, spousal sponsorships to Canada soared 78.4 per cent, by 28,315 more new permanent residents annually, to hit 64,435. That was almost – but not quite – as many spousal sponsorships as before the start of the pandemic.
Spousal Sponsorships Picked Up In September After Soft August
But things are looking up for this year and a new record is in the works if the current trend continues.
There are, of course, fluctuations in the number of new residents coming to Canada under spousal sponsorships from month to month.
In August this year, the number of people who gained their permanent residency in Canada through this program dipped by 24.2 per cent compared to the previous month only to rise by almost exactly the same percentage in September.
Across the country, spousal sponsorship numbers are on track to end the year down compared to 2021 in the francophone province of Quebec, where they forecast to dip 9.3 per cent, and in the Prairie provinces of Manitoba, where spousal sponsorships are expected to end the year off by 4.6 per cent, and Saskatchewan, which is poised to end the year with spousal sponsorships 1.3 per cent lower.
The Northwest Territories are also expected based on the current trend to close the year with spousal sponsorships down by 17.9 per cent.
The big gains so far this year in the number of spouses rejoining loved ones through this program are most apparent in the Atlantic Canadian province of Nova Scotia. There, spousal sponsorships are projected to close the year up 35.4 per cent, or 225 new permanent residents.
Next door in New Brunswick, spousal sponsorships are on track to end the year up 20.4 per cent and Prince Edward Island is projected to show similar growth, of 22.2 per cent, in the number of new permanent residents arriving through this program.
The Yukon territory, too, is expected to end the year with spousal sponsorships up 22.2 per cent and Nunavut is forecast to show growth in spousal sponsorships of 33.3 per cent.
On The Rock, as Newfoundland and Labrador is affectionately called, spousal sponsorships promise to end the year up 11.1 per cent.
Ontario On Track To Welcome 4,173 More Through Spousal Sponsorships This Year Than In 2021
In central Canada, Ontario’s spousal sponsorships are on track to end the year up 14.4 per cent, or 4,173 new permanent residents, compared to last year and see 33,133 spouses immigrate under that program in 2022.
Alberta’s spousal sponsorships are forecast to close the year up 5.4 per cent compared to last year and British Columbia’s to rise by 6.9 per cent.
When a Canadian citizen or permanent resident chooses to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner to immigrate to Canada, the sponsor must sign an undertaking, promising to give financial support for the sponsored person’s basic needs, including:
- food, clothing, shelter and their needs for everyday living, and;
- dental care, eye care and other health needs not covered by public health services.
This agreement cannot be cancelled, even if:
- the person sponsored becomes a Canadian citizen;
- the couple divorces, separates or the relationship breaks down;
- either the sponsor or the sponsored spouse or common-law partner moves to another province or country, or;
- the sponsor experiences financial problems.
Maternity, parental and sickness benefits paid under the Employment Insurance Act in Canada are all considered income and contribute to allowing a person to sponsor a spouse or common-law partner but other payments from the government, such as employment insurance and federal training allowances, are not considered income.
On its website, IRCC provides estimates of the current processing times for various types of applications, including spousal sponsorships.
According to that website, the current processing time for sponsorship applications for spouses or common-law partners currently outside the country is now down to 20 months.
That estimated processing time includes:
- the time needed to provide biometrics;
- the assessment of the sponsor and the person being sponsored, and;
- the time immigration officials need to ensure the sponsor and his or her spouse or common-law partner meet the eligibility requirements.